It’s a common saying which rings true for most of us: home is where the heart is.
But it appears that not everyone quite agrees – including some disgruntled inhabitants of Aylesbury, a Southern town in leafy Buckinghamshire.
An annual poll of ‘c**p towns’ compiled by tongue-in-cheek website ILiveHere.co.uk reveals that the garden town is top of the list for 2022.
But now unimpressed residents hit back after the survey after the Mirror visited the sprawling suburb to chat to locals.
Paul Fretton, the owner of Jordan’s Jewellers, who moved down from Ealing, London, 20 years ago, said: “I think it’s a lovely place to live, we’ve got reservoirs, canals and open spaces.
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“Traffic is a problem but it’s the same everywhere, it’s not just here.
“We’ve got a great connection to London. Maybe some of the shops are a little bit of a letdown.
“Nightlife is very good around here, and there are lovely restaurants. There are lots of coffee shops too.
“My wife has lived here all her life and she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I’ve lived in much worse places, it’s a lovely place to live.”
Resident Helen Kingman, who has lived here for 21 years, told us: “The people are really friendly here, I don’t get it.
“The only downside is decent clothes shopping but it’s only 25 minutes away. But the theatre is really good, it’s lovely.
“There are some lovely walks around here, there are some nice places really nearby. I think that result is definitely unwarranted.”
In Market Square, resident Kirsty Moate, 30, added: “The reason why it was voted the worst is because of the traffic. It’s horrendous.
“It’s not too bad to walk around, we have the same crime issues as elsewhere. It’s not horrendous. I don’t think it’s the worst place.”
Sheena Cairney, the owner of The Coffee Tree, added: “I could think of far worse places. I live in the old town, it’s a lovely part of Aylesbury.”
Walking through the town centre with his Boston terrier Phoebe, resident Peter Randall, 65, hit back at critics who dubbed it an ‘eyesore concrete jungle’ which is ‘covered in grey’.
“I’ve lived here since I was 11 years old, I don’t understand why it’s been reported the worst, it’s not actually that bad.
“When I was younger, the music scene was brilliant, everyone came here. We had the top bands come here before they were famous, including David Bowie.
“But it is the infrastructure that has destroyed the place, they talk about putting a ring road in but all it is is a glorified road within an estate.
“You only have to get one accident in Aylesbury for every road to become gridlocked. The other problem is HS2, our wildlife is being obliterated. I understand why people are disgruntled, but the town itself isn’t the problem.”
Despite attractions such as the Roald Dahl Museum, who wrote his books just down the road, and modern Waterside Theatre, unimpressed locals didn’t have many nice things to say on the review website.
According to iLiveHere, Aylesbury has a higher rate of homeownership than the national average, while its 3.8% unemployment is below the average rate of 5%.
The town features two statues playing tribute to comedy legend Ronnie Barker, who began his acting career there, and David Bowie, who debuted his alter ego Ziggy Stardust at the town’s famous music venue Friars.
Sadly, a petition to change the town’s name to ‘Aylesbowie’ was ignored.
Its relatively affordable house prices – with a three-bed home costing on average £375k – is a godsend to buyers looking to move to Buckinghamshire for its excellent grammar schools and beautiful Chiltern landscape.
But critics have previously slammed council planning – with naysayers complaining of ‘vile’ public buildings and cramped housing estates.
One review complains: “Any building that had previously given the town its market town look was looked on with derision.”
Aylesbury came top of the list in the tongue-in-cheek pool, after scoring 25 per cent more than Huddersfield, which came second in the list.
One fed-up resident jokily quipped online: “Not all of Huddersfield is bad… just 70% of it.”, while another bluntly warned outsiders to “avoid this s***hole.”
Business owner Ian Cox, who runs Aylesbury Escape Rooms, says the town has been a “great place to be.”
He added: “There’s a real interest in making things happen. The town council has been fantastic, everyone has been trying to make things happen.
“Our customers have been great. From day one, we’ve never had any problems here, and we were excited to come to Aylesbury.
“It surprises me that it’s been voted the worst.”
Danny Prendergast, director of Aylesbury Music Rooms and performer in Beatles tribute band The Dung Beatles, added: “The town is good, we could do with some more independent shops like anywhere else.
“We’ve been here 28 years and have no problems. It’s not the worst place. I have no qualms at all.”
Emily Morris, 30, who now lives in London but was visiting family said: “I feel like those people need to get a life, I moved away but love coming back.
“I would definitely consider moving here when I have kids, the schools are great and there is lots to do outdoors.”
The annual survey compiled by iLivehere, saw 110,172 locals voting for their own communities and offering a sarcastic review on where they live.
Hairdresser Rachel Watts, 43, who owns barbers Just Cutz: “I’ve noticed over the ten years that while the town has expanded, traffic has got worse.
“I used to be able to drive into town from five minutes but now it would take half an hour so I cycle.
“But I wouldn’t have thought it was the worst place to live.”
The top 10 “worst places” to live in England are:
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.